Susan Kupferman, a top adviser to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's chairman who held several transportation-related leadership posts during her career, died Wednesday, the MTA announced.
Kupferman, 54, of Manhattan, died after "a long illness," the agency said in a statement. Friends said she had battled cancer for years.
"The MTA has lost a true professional in our industry, and her wisdom and counsel will be sorely missed," MTA chairman and chief executive Thomas F. Prendergast said. "Susan brought to the MTA not just her expertise in mass transit, which was substantial, but a clear understanding of the political and social environments in which we operate, making her an invaluable adviser on many different policy issues."
Kupferman also worked in state government, including as director of the Department of Strategic Planning and External Affairs at the New York State Thruway Authority and assistant secretary to the governor for transportation.
At the MTA, she held various positions, including as president of Bridges and Tunnels and as a board member while working as New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's director of operations.
In a statement, Bloomberg credited Kupferman with helping launch the city's 311 information and service hotline and Internet site, and with "revolutionizing" the mayor's Management Report, a biannual report card on city services.
"Whenever I would speak with her, I was always taken by her strength and resolve," Bloomberg said. "She was the embodiment of a great public servant -- a highly talented and driven New Yorker who conducted herself with the utmost integrity."
Kupferman also was the first full-time co-director of the Rudin Center for Transportation Policy & Management at New York University.
"She had a genuine understanding of the entire transportation system," current Rudin Center director, Mitchell Moss, said. "There was no job she couldn't do."
Kupferman is survived by her husband, Bernard McGarry, father Arnold Kupferman, two brothers, two sisters and 10 nieces and nephews.